Trusses are made up of a series of panels, or the horizontal distance between the centerlines of two consecutive panel points along the top or bottom chord. Panels are imperative to the triangulation of the truss that allows the transfer of forces through the truss members and ultimately to the bearings.
Panel length is determined by the truss technician and typically determines what size material is used for the top or bottom chord. The greater the panel length, the more likely the truss technician is to use wider width material. The truss technician’s primary task is to design the most efficient truss while meeting loading and design conditions as well as adhering to a variety of code, safety, and standards requirements.
Panel points are located where web members intersect with top or bottom chords, which are connected by metal connector plates. Panel points determine the length of the panel and webbing formation of the truss. Shifting panel points even small distances can impact the efficiency of the truss and transform a truss that doesn’t pass design requirements to a truss that does. This is particularly evident when point loads are applied to a truss.